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The Hoosierist: So Long, Spaghetti Bowl

Interstate traffic, a church in ruins, and a monster truck museum. Ask the Hoosierist.

Illustration by Ryan Johnson

When did the intertwined interstates downtown stop being called “The Spaghetti Bowl”?

The Hoosierist wasn’t aware that this pasta-centric pejorative had fallen out of favor. For the record, the city calls this confusing confluence of traffic lanes the North Split—a Gordian Knot formed by the mingling of I-65 and I-70 on the city’s near northeast side. This 40-year-old tangle was nicknamed the Spaghetti Bowl almost from day one. But it wasn’t the first stretch of highway to earn such a moniker. The term goes all the way back to 1965, when the Gravelly Hill Interchange in England was referred to as Spaghetti Junction in a newspaper article. After that, complex highway loops in every corner of the world were called spaghetti-this and spaghetti-that. Japan went its own way, however, opting for the anime-ish term Tentacle Junction. Warning: Do not look up “Tentacle Junction + Japan” on Google.

What’s up with Holy Cross church? It’s the namesake of a neighborhood, but it’s all boarded up.

While the near-downtown neighborhood that bears its name is going gangbusters, the century-old church is facing many tribulations. The former spiritual centerpiece of Holy Cross was closed in 2016 when its congregation dwindled to a mere handful. Since then, it has endured a series of indignities, including the removal of its stained-glass windows for use in another church. The situation is so dire that for two years in a row, it has made Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list. Efforts to find a reuse for the massive building, complete with a 136-foot bell tower, have so far failed. It will cost millions to restore, and a gigantic house of worship doesn’t lend itself to just any function. Its current owner, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, likely isn’t keen to see it converted into, say, a dance club.

Is it true that a monster truck museum is moving to northern Indiana? Why here?

Admittedly, such a spectacle might get a warmer welcome in a certain area of the country where pecan logs are sold at every gas station and gators lurk in every pond. Yet Indiana has hosted the International Monster Truck Museum & Hall of Fame for years. It was originally headquartered in Auburn, but this spring, it will roll down the road to new digs in the tiny town of Butler. The truck show will join a growing roster of oddball museums in Northern Indiana, including the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, and the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum (also in Elkhart). Some regional tourism commission should put together a cultural trail.

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